COVID-19 has rocked nearly every industry across the globe, and the travel industry was not immune to the economic impacts of the virus. But after nearly a year of being quarantined indoors, people are itching to get out and explore their favorite travel destinations again – safely. When the state of California reopened to restricted leisure travel toward the end of January, Santa Maria Valley was ready to welcome visitors from within 120 miles back to the Central Coast. We wanted guests to have the ability to experience our wide-open wine country, enjoy our legendary barbecue and explore the great outdoors. And so, the Santa Maria Valley Stimulus was created. Hotel and lodging partners, using dollars created through the Tourism Marketing District (TMD) assessment fund, provided a $100 stimulus offer for the first 500 people to claim it. To be eligible, guests had to book at least two consecutive nights at one of our TMD lodging properties between Feb 4 and March 31. This tourism campaign was designed to stimulate Santa Maria Valley’s local economy and bolster the success of our local businesses while encouraging and promoting safe and responsible travel. Throughout the pandemic, businesses in Santa Maria Valley have pledged to stay safe and open to locals and guests alike. Our little corner of the Central Coast is usually less crowded than other regions, which makes it easier for people to support local businesses safely. Throughout the promotion, Santa Maria Valley’s wine tasting rooms, breweries, outdoor spaces, attractions, retailers, restaurants and hotels worked together to develop and continuously evolve health and safety protocols so that locals and visitors alike may experience the region in a responsible fashion. Businesses followed all health and safety protocols set by the Governor and State of California, limited capacity in businesses, and lodging properties took extra health and safety precautions. Guests were expected to protect our region in accordance with the California Responsible Travel Code. The campaign was a resounding success. Santa Maria Valley launched the campaign on Feb. 1, and the stimulus packages were completely sold out by Feb. 4. In addition to the original 500 guaranteed stimulus packages, we were able to fund an additional 113 offers so that even more guests could experience the beauty and friendly hospitality of Santa Maria Valley. Ultimately, more than 2,500 people joined the stimulus waiting list. The stimulus package garnered media coverage in major news outlets, including MSN Travel, CNN, New York Post, SFGate, Travel + Leisure and hundreds more. Santa Maria Valley created paid promotional assets for social media, but the promotion also gained traction organically. One TikTok user called heybrandonwakeup featured an entire TikTok series about the promotion and his travels to the region. The most important outcome of the stimulus offer was the boost to local business. With more than 600 new guests (likely as many as 1,200, assuming the majority traveled in pairs) traveling to the region safely, local restaurants, wineries, breweries and retail stores saw an influx of new customers. Santa Maria Valley looks forward to continuing to welcome guests back safely in the future. Visit our plan your trip page to start planning your next trip to Santa Maria Valley. And, be sure to sign up for our email mailing list to be informed on future promotions like the Santa Maria Valley Stimulus.